Xiaoheiqingella: Rare Priapulomorph Worm from Chengjiang

Xiaoheiqingella peculiaris

Phylum Priapulida, Order Priapulomorpha, Family Priapulidae

Geologic Time: Early Cambrian (~525 million years ago)

Size: 7 mm long by 3 mm across on a 19 mm by 15 mm matrix

Fossil Site: Chengjiang Maotianshan Shales - Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation, Mafang Village, Anning, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Xiaoheiqingella peculiarisDescription: This is one of the rarer members of the Priapulida that is known as Xiaoheiqingella pecularis. The diversity of soft-tissue fossils from Chengjiang is astonishing: algae, medusiforms, sponges, priapulids, annelid-like worms, echinoderms, arthropods (including trilobites), hemichordates, chordates, and the first agnathan fish make up just a small fraction of the total. Numerous problematic forms are known as well, some of which may have represented failed attempts at diversity that did not persist to the present day.

The priapulids are a group of non-segmented worms whose modern-day examples can reach 30 cm in length, and live in both shallow and deep marine sands as carnivores. This one is a member of the order Priapulomorpha, a very pauperate order having but 2 genera. It is quite rare, having been originally described from roughly a dozen specimens by Hu in 2002.

“The Earliest-Known Ancestors of Recent Priapulomorpha From The Early Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstatte”, Han, Jian; Shu, Degan; Zhang, Zhifel, and Liu, Jianni, Chinese Science Bulletin, Vol 49 No 17, September 2004, pp1860-1868.

Also see: Chengjiang Biota List

click fossil images to enlarge

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